The ongoing review of the planning system - update

United Kingdom

The Department responsible for the Government's Reform of the Planning and Development Regime – the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) - announced in June of this year an indicative timetable to bring into effect certain provisions of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act which received Royal Assent on 13th May 2004. Many provisions conferring powers and duties came into effect on the 6th August with most of the remaining provisions due to be enabled on the 28th September 2004. 

In summary:

  • Part 1 of the 2004 Act – Regional Planning - the provisions in relation to the introduction of Regional Spatial Strategies (RSS) to replace Regional Planning Guidance notes and the introduction of Regional Planning Bodies will be fully enabled by the end of this month.
  • Part 2 – Local Planning - the provisions to require local planning authorities to prepare and maintain Local Development Schemes with Local Development Documents (LDD), all of which must fit within the RSSs, will be enabled at the same time as Part 1.
  • Part 3 – Development Plans and Sustainable Development – Part 2 of the Act redefines 'development plan' with the introduction of the requirement for planning authorities to produce Local Development Documents and this Part amends the necessary definitions.  It also imposes a statutory duty on the persons and bodies responsible for preparing RSS and Local Development Documents to assess how the policies and plans will contribute towards sustainable development.

On the 8th September 2004, the ODPM issued guidance relating to the obligations contained in Parts 1, 2 and 3 of the Act in the form of two new Planning Policy Statements setting out procedural policy in relation to the content and preparation of both RSSs and LDDs.

  • Part 4 - Development Control – amongst other things will bring about changes to the General Development Procedure Order.  For example the introduction of local permitted development rights by way of local development orders. Where changes have already been consulted on they are due to be enabled this month. However, the provision under this Part of the Act that would require developers, landlords and tenants to make an application for planning permission to install a mezzanine floor into a retail unit has not yet been consulted upon.  Consultation on this issue should take place Autumn 2004 and the resulting provisions should then come into effect in early 2005.

Provisions under this Part of the Act that came into force on the 6th August 2004 include changes to the way in which fees and charges for a range of planning functions are administered and the requirements for the provision of documents in support of planning applications.

Yet to be brought into force are the provisions relating to the reduction of time conditions for planning permissions and to the extension of local planning authorities' powers to decline to determine applications. The ODPM have announced their intention to issue guidance on the power to decline to determine which, when enabled, will put a stop to the use of twin tracking by applicants.

Specific Regulations on Planning Obligations (Section 106 Agreements) will not be made until early 2006.  However, the Government considers that a revised Government Circular 1/97 on planning obligations should be published - as a draft for consultation - in Autumn 2004 with a view to putting the new arrangements in place early in 2005.  Government will also continue to work up proposals in parallel for an optional planning charge, but at the same time Government is to encourage a number of local authorities (as yet unidentified) to pilot the planning charge procedure.

For full details of the suggested timetable access the government's press release at http://www.odpm.gov.uk/pns/DisplayPN.cgi?pn_id=2004_0135.